A Look at the Pacific-12 Bubble Mess

I’m unsure how bad the Pacific 12 is in historical proportion, but I do know they are pretty darn bad this season. A ‘BCS’ conference might be a 1-bid league come Selection Sunday or may have 3 or 4 bids. Here is my attempt to make some sense of this mess.

Washington is currently in first place of the Pac-12 with a 13-3 record while California is in second with a 13-4 record. Both teams have similar resumes, lets break them down:

Washington:

California:

– California has a better record against the Top-50 (2-3) than Washington (1-5) but has two bad losses to Washington’s zero.

– Washington was 7-5 in their non-conference schedule with their best win over UC Santa Barbara (#115) while California went 10-2 with wins over Weber State (#74)  and Denver (#88).

– Neither team has a strong resume and neither team did too much outside of the Pac-12.

Beyond these two teams, Arizona and Oregon are also in the mix for at-large bids. Lets take a look at their resumes.

Arizona:

Oregon:

– Arizona has very poor RPI/SOS numbers while Oregon’s are a bit better.

– Both teams had similar non-conference records but Arizona beat two Top-100 teams (@#69 New Mexico State, #89 Valparaiso) while Oregon did not.

– Arizona is 1-4 vs Top 50 and 4-8 vs Top 100. Oregon is 0-5 vs Top 50 and 2-7 vs Top 100.

Its clear that Arizona has a better resume than Oregon and one very similar to Washington’s. However, Arizona has worse RPI/SOS numbers & and one bad loss compared to Washington’s zero.

If today were Selection Sunday: California has the best resume in the Pac-12, if only by a hair. Washington has the next best and would receive the hypothetical ‘auto-bid’ right now due to conference standings. Arizona and Oregon would be on the outside looking in.

Looking forward: It would benefit these four teams if they stayed in the Top 4 of the Pac-12 standings in order to receive a first round bye in the Pac-12 tournament. Their first game would likely be a must win (especially for Washington, Arizona & Oregon). Optimally, all four teams would want to meet in the semi-finals of the conference tournament where the games could potentially be bubble elimination.

What California needs to do to be considered: Beat Stanford, at least reach Pac-12 semi-finals.

What Washington needs to do to be considered: Beat USC & UCLA, at least reach Pac-12 semi-finals

What Arizona needs to do to be considered: Beat Arizona State, at least reach Pac-12 finals

What Oregon needs to do to be considered: Beat Colorado & Utah, at least reach Pac-12 finals

With so many mediocre teams in the Pac-12, none of these teams outside of California (and even then…) can really afford more than one loss. Stanford, UCLA, USC, Utah & Arizona State would all count as bad losses. That means that these teams are in a neutral-lose situation until the Pac-12 semifinals. A loss would be bad and a win just keeps them afloat.

Whatever the case, I’m sure some of these teams will slip up and make the entire scenario that much muddier since they are that mediocre. Who knows, maybe Stanford or UCLA will make an improbable Pac-12 conference tournament run like USC in 2009 just for headache’s sake. We might have to revisit this situation in a week’s time.

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Bubble Watch: Sunday, February 26th

Bubble teams, as usual, are in bold.

Sunday, February 26th:

Cincinnati @ South Florida (12PM ESPN3) – Huge, huge bubble game in the Big East. The Bearcats are in slightly better position but are still firmly on the bubble. South Florida is on the outside looking in and definitely need this win to improve their resume.

#24 Indiana @ Minnesota (1PM ESPN) – Minnesota has dropped four straight and are teetering on the outside of the bubble.  They surely need this win against a Top 25 team or they are likely NIT bound.

California @ Colorado (5:30PM) – California is hovering around an 8/9 seed right now but a loss would put them in the bubble conversation as the Pacific-12 is quite weak this season.

Iowa @ Illinois (6PM BTN) – Like Minnesota, Illinois is in a tailspin, dropping their last six. A must win game against an Iowa team which has done surprisingly well in conference play under third year skipper Fran McCaffery.

#16 Florida State @ Miami (FL) (6PM ESPNU) – Miami have lost three of their last four games but lost by just five @ Florida State earlier this month. For a team squarely on the bubble with state bragging rights on the line (for the 451 non-UF college basketball fans living in Florida), this is an important game.

Oregon @ Oregon State (7:30PM) – Oregon is hovering around the cut line with this being the most difficult of their three remaining games. Winning out and a Pacific 12 tournament run might just lock up a bid.

I’ll be doing daily Bubble Watches and other NCAA tournament related work until Selection Sunday (March 11th). Stay tuned.